Defense and clutch hitting marked last weeks two big Region 8-AA wins for Head Coach Jimmy Pruett’s varsity baseball team.
The Tigers defeated Fannin County, 2-1, and Rabun County, 3-0, to move the team’s region record to 5-2 and 6-5 overall. Both games were played in Dawsonville.
“We just came up with big hits at the right time,” Pruett said. “But our defense was outstanding. We only had one error against Fannin and no errors against Rabun.”
Last Monday, against Fannin County, the Tigers pulled out the victory in dramatic fashion. With the game tied at 1-1 entering the home half of the seventh inning, Tiger Ren Buttram stepped up to the plate.
Buttram, who has been struggling on offense all season, took a pitch from Rebel pitcher Ryan Nix and deposited it over the fence for a walk-off homer. The homerun pushed Dawson to the 2-1 win.
Pruett commented: “What a big hit for Ren. He deserved it.”
Buttram was surrounded by his teammates as he crossed home plate. But the dramatic homerun was only part of the story. Defense and pitching kept the Tigers in the game.
Starting pitcher Chase Gilreath was outstanding from the mound.
Gilreath picked up the win to push his record to 4-0 and a paltry 1.50 ERA.
Gilreath only allowed the Rebels one run and it was unearned. He finished with six strikeouts in the complete game victory.
Dawson got on the scoreboard in the first inning when Kaleb Kicklighter singled home Gilreath from second base.
Fannin answered in the top half of the second inning. Rebel Tyler McClure reached home on an error at first base, tying the score at 1-1.
The score remained tied until the game-winning homer by Buttram.
“This was big win for us. When we played up there, Blue Ridge, they won the game in the bottom of the seventh, so it was time to return the favor,” said Pruett.
Fannin defeated Dawson 7-6 on March 18.
Both teams combined for only seven hits, three by Dawson and four by Rabun, in a defensive battle on Tuesday with Rabun County.
The Tigers made their three hits count scoring two runs in the third inning and followed it up with another run in the fourth to take the 3-0 win. Once again the victory was a payback win after Rabun took a huge 8-1 win earlier in the year.
Buttram (2-3) was outstanding on the mound for the Tigers.
Buttram pitched a complete game shutout and picked up 13 strikeouts while giving up four hits to the Wildcats.
He allowed only one Wildcat runner to reach third base during the entire game.
Buttram, with the 13 strikeouts, pushed his season total to 49 strikeouts for the season.
Pruett remarked: “Ren was great out there today. It was big after the heroics he pulled off yesterday. I was also proud of our kids for the defensive play. No errors, that is a big deal for us. Maybe we have turned the corner.”
Dawson picked up two runs in the third inning off a 2-run blast by shortstop Chase Gilreath.
For Gilreath, it was his second homer of the season to go along with a team leading 13 RBI’s. Gilreath drove in Dylan Garrett, who singled, from first base. He also leads the team in hitting with a .419 batting average.
The Tigers picked up another run in the fourth inning. Chase Williams scored after reaching base on a walk from Rabun pitcher Jim Bob Carver. Carver had dismantled Dawson in the 8-1 Wildcat win on March 20.
The Tigers are off all week for spring break. Pruett’s team will return to action on Monday, April 13 when they travel to Tiger to take on Rabun County.
Game time will be 5:30 p.m.
E-mail Pam Jacobs at email@example.com.